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Attainable Adventure

Tana Hoffman is getting women off the sidelines and into the mountains

In college, right down the street from my favorite coffee shop was this small bridal boutique. On my way to study, I’d always stop for a few seconds to admire the decadent gowns displayed in the windows. Inside, I could spot shoppers relaxing on plush sofas with glasses of prosecco. Storekeepers buzzed back and forth from the dress racks, their arms overflowing with white dresses. I’ve never gone wedding dress shopping but sitting in the Mountainist retail and rental gear shop in Alpine, Wyoming, gives me an idea of what those brides were feeling. Except here you won’t find any chiffon, satin, or silk. Instead, the clothing racks and walls are bursting with neon Gore-Tex monosuits, synthetic mountain bike jerseys, hard dirt bike armor, and avalanche safety equipment.

Her women’s adventure boutique has equipment for mountain biking, fly fishing, backcountry snowboarding and skiing, and motorized recreation. It also doesn’t play by the retail rule book—Tana chooses to stock both men’s and women’s gear for her female shoppers. “Our approach isn’t what’s the best women’s gear, but what’s the best gear for these women,” she says. If you can’t make it to the brick and mortar shop in Alpine, not a problem. This individualized approach is part of Mountainist’s online experience too. It’s not unusual for Tana to do an hour-long Zoom call with a customer, guiding them through the items they might need for their first-ever dirt bike or snowmobile ride.

Her women’s adventure boutique has equipment for mountain biking, fly fishing, backcountry snowboarding and skiing, and motorized recreation. It also doesn’t play by the retail rule book—Tana chooses to stock both men’s and women’s gear for her female shoppers. “Our approach isn’t what’s the best women’s gear, but what’s the best gear for these women,” she says. If you can’t make it to the brick and mortar shop in Alpine, not a problem. This individualized approach is part of Mountainist’s online experience too. It’s not unusual for Tana to do an hour-long Zoom call with a customer, guiding them through the items they might need for their first-ever dirt bike or snowmobile ride.

Like her brick and mortar shop, the Mountainist website stands apart from most direct-to-consumer e-commerce sites. Front and center are how-to articles and gear blogs exploring how gear fits for different body types. Of everything she’s doing with Mountainist, Tana is most excited to see the company’s media side grow. With ideas like her Ask an Editor column, she hopes to connect professional athletes with everyday adventurers—and that’s only scratching the surface.

As an East-coast transplant to the wild west of Wyoming, Tana knows all too well what it’s like being a newcomer to intimidating sports like backcountry snowboarding and snowmobiling. When she arrived, she didn’t have any female mentors to lean on and often purchased the wrong gear, ultimately wasting money on pricey items that weren’t right for her. “If Mountainist came down to one word, it’s about access,” she explains, and accessibility is intertwined with gear. Essential items like snowmobile monosuits can range from $400 to $850—a steep price tag for someone on the fence. Renting, Tana argues, is a way to eliminate that barrier. “It’s tough to show up when you run the risk of being called a Jerry,” Tana points out. With so much technical gear and know-how involved, beginners are easy to spot.

It was never Tana’s plan to pursue a career in retail. Despite high school jobs at bridal boutiques and outdoor gear shops, she spent the last ten years making a name for herself as a digital marketer, crafting compelling brand narratives for companies like Winter Park Resort and Teton Gravity Research. The spark for Mountainist, however, came from scrolling through comments on TGR’s website and social media. “I kept seeing people say, ‘I wish I could do this, but I don’t know where to start,’” she explains. She especially heard and noted this refrain from women.
Initially, she hoped Mountainist could be a women’s outdoor media platform, focusing on overcoming what she calls the “zero-to-one.” It’s the initial step a person takes to rent a snowboard or go to a snowmobiling clinic. Tana aspires to make that leap shorter, more comfortable, and digestible, but all businesses need to generate revenue. Rather than rely on the media arm to do that, Tana realized that renting and selling gear could support her cause. Now, not only does this business model fuel her burgeoning media platform, but she’s using it to give back by putting 2% of every Mountainist sale towards their Grit Grant Fund. The fund’s purpose is to help women pursue their dream adventure and is another way to break down the financial barriers to entry into these sports.

Between the grants, the articles, and low-cost gear rentals, Mountainist is becoming that reliable friend we’ve all leaned on when we first got into these adventure sports. The kind person who, without hesitation, lent you their extra jacket or gave you tips for setting a skin track. Except the Mountainist is a step above: it’s a whole community of like-minded gals. It takes a bold idea like this to make impactful change.


Katie Lozancich
is a freelance storyteller, photographer, and badass that always meets deadline. @_katielo